Role of Community Boards
Community Boards were established in 1963 through the New York City Charter as a means for the city’s governance to provide opportunities for broader and more in-depth engagement of citizens in local decision-making. The Charter broadly authorized each Board to “Consider the needs of the district which it serves.” Each Board sets its own course of action based on local needs and opportunities.
Each of New York City's 59 Community Boards, comprised of 50 unsalaried members appointed by Borough Presidents in consultation with the Council Members of the Board district, serves as a local representative body of City government. Board members must reside, work or possess a specific interest in the community they represent.
Monthly Board meetings provide a public forum for members to address items of concern to the community and give residents the opportunity to express their opinions. Boards also regularly conduct public hearings on the City’s budget, land use matters and other items of concern.
Committees within Community Boards are charged with following up on the issues raised at Board meetings. Each board establishes its own structures and procedures for committees; non–Board members may apply to join them.
Boards have an advisory role in dealing with land use and zoning matters, the City budget, municipal service delivery, and many other matters relating to their communities' welfare.
Land Use and Zoning
Community Boards must be consulted on placement of most municipal facilities in the community and on other land use issues. They may also initiate their own plans for the growth and well being of their communities. Also, any application for a change in or variance from the zoning resolution must come before the Board for review, and the Board's position is considered in the final determination of these applications.
Community Boards assess the needs of their own neighborhoods, meet with City agencies, and make recommendations in the City's budget process to address them.
Other Community Concerns
Any problem which affects part or all of the community, from a traffic problem to deteriorating housing, is a proper concern of a Community Board.
The Community Board, its District Manager, and its office staff serve as advocates and service coordinators for the community and its residents. They function on a purely advisory level, and cannot order any City agency or official to perform any task.